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It all happened when I had to redeem my crappy friend status……..

EL CORTEZ
TEQUILA BAR + KITCHEN
10322 83 Ave NW,
Edmonton, AB

“Ugh, I forgot to phone you back” I texted to her, feeling like a bag of shit. “No worries”, she said ” You can redeem your crappy friend status if you meet me at a new spot tonight that I’ve wanted to try for a while”, Brandy, (my cool, smart, witty friend who is a great foodie as well) bargained. “Hell ya!” I said, after taking a peek at the online menu.  By the way, I need to give a big shout out to restaurants who put their menu’s online. There’s nothing worse than the moment when you realize you hate everything on the menu, and so now you have no choice but to just get drunk because booze is all you can to order. It really cuts on down the awkwardness.

El Cortez is a new spot that’s opened in the old Sweet 69 space on Gateway Blvd Northbound. Now, to be fair, I don’t know a lot about mexican fare, but my girl Brandy does. She spent time traveling around Mexico and the girl can make a wicked taco – not to mention knowing her way around an excellent ceviche.  She would lead the evening in the food selections and I of course, would just be funny, gorgeous entertaining self.

I arrived before her, so I found a comfy seat by the window (picnic table style) and took a look around. Let me tell you, the decor in this place KICKS ASS!! I’ve not seen anything like it, and would hazard a guess that the rest of Edmonton hasn’t either. Brandy said she read somewhere that the decor could be described like an old gangster setup, rough and tough, all grafitti’d up and expectant of dude with a handlebar mustache (think Danny Trejo kinda, in “Machete”) to come in with guns a blazin’,… but then his girlfriend comes in and throws in her girly touch to the mix. (That’s the gist of what she was saying anyway.) Take a look at this awesome decor. It’s literally an exciting sight for bored eyes that are SO done with looking at the same old sleek-clean-lines-wood-steel decorating that tries too hard in that  “I’m trying to be cool” way.

There’s no trying here, El Cortez decor IS cool.

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Oh, our server was super cool too. She did a great job. She had great suggestions  – I wanted a fruity type drink, so she suggested one that was on the menu. Unfortunately, they were out of the alcohol needed to make it. (Ummmmm… On a thursday night, you’re out of booze for certain drinks on your menu??) So, I picked another drink off the menu:

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Wooooeeeeeee!!!! I took a sip, and instantly feared talking in the direction of the burning candle. Flame thrower is not a good look for any girl. Boooooozy!!! If your idea of a cocktail is pure alcohol, then you may like it.  But my inner alchie is a pansy-ass so I didn’t like the drink. Finally, I settled on a glass of white which was again, one of the servers suggestions, and it was fine.

Appetizers:

TAQUITO:  Ahi tuna wrapped in a tortilla with wasabi avocado crema, onion, pickle, tomato and watercress.

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This appetizer was DELISH!! The wrap was warm and crispy, the tuna firm and succulent. The wasabi crema could have been a bit more plentiful on the plate, but what was there added a slightly spicy creaminess that helped tone down the pickle on the crunchy onion. It all worked together wonderfully. Was it worth the 17 dollars for the appetizer?  No. However, it was pretty damn tasty.

 

CEVICHE: Albacore tuna, sweet potato, roasted corn, cilantro, chilies with tortilla chips3
Snoooore. This ceviche limped along, trying to act all ceviche like, but just couldn’t cut it. We even tried to help it by asking for extra lime and salt, but it was just no bueno. It was bland with the occasional hit of sweetness from the corn and… sweet potato. Sweet potato in a ceviche? That was a first for us but we were willing to keep an open mind, and it just didn’t cut it. It was a miss for both of us. However, I have to say, the tableware in this joint is INCREDIBLY gorgeous. Every dish was served on a great piece of pottery that gave it an authentic feel. I want to have it.
 
Now.
 
Ok, moving on……
 
Salad:
 
Watermelon Salad: Squares of watermelon with jalapeno, shallot, water cress, and torched queso with a tequila lime dressing.
 
 
 
 
 
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This salad sounded so delectable in words. I was SO excited because really, I could be a watermelon kingpin. I’d love to have a watermelon empire if I lived somewhere hot, because I simply love watermelon so much. Unfortunately, it almost whispered “sorry” to me when the server brought it our table. Again, cool ass plate, but approximately five pieces of watermelon with barely “torched” (not really even melted) cheese on top. If by saying onion, they meant radish, then that part was good and crispy, but I saw no onion on the plate. The dressing was nice, but I think they put chili oil on the plate as well? Sorry, another let down.
 
Tacos:
 
We ordered three kinds:
1.Fried cheese, jalapeno and mango slaw with bacon bits and crema

2. Beef cheek, poblano mole, queso fresca, guacamole and radish

3. Smoked pulled pork, kale kimchi, fried peppers and crema

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1. The fried cheese (top) – It was not bad. Again, nothing really bad about it, but nothing spectacular either. The mango was nice with it but it just needed something to bring it up a level or two…

2. The beef cheeks (left) – This was very rich. Beef cheeks are luxurious and unctuous to begin with and with a rich guacamole, it was rich on rich. The radish wasn’t enough to cut the richness, but again,
if you like rich on rich, you’ll love them.

3. Pulled pork (right) – Nice! Smoky flavor from the sauce in the pork and a little crunch from the fried peppers. The kale kimchi was a little lost, but this was good in general.

So overall, the food was………. lack luster. It had some really amazing stuff (the taquito) and a dish that really made it stumble (the ceviche). In between all that, were the salad and tacos that were simply average.  El Cortez can’t survive on the decor alone, and I hope that the menu works out the blandish kinks.  Brandy and  I both decided that as it now, it’s a great place to go after work for some drinks and an appetizer, but as a great dining experience… not so much. I think the items on the menu are great, but they just really need to be tweaked in terms of flavor. That being said, if they get the menu right, coupled with that kickass decor and cool ambience, they could have a super popular spot would do really, really well.

El Cortez Tequila Bar and Kitchen on Urbanspoon

YE OLDE KINGS HEAD!

Ye Olde Kings Head
116 Santa Monica Boulevard,
Santa Monica, CA
Written by guest reviewer, Chris Davis

When I think of British I think of 80’s pop bands, tea,Trafalgar Square, crappy weather, Monty Python, and those red telephone booths they have. But what about the food, you ask? Well that part is something they’re not really known for as a whole.But…. then there are their fish and chips.When you come to the Los Angeles area you usually expect the following: Palm trees. Hollywood boulevard. Movie stars. Writers and actors trying to make it but work at Starbucks, and some ultra trendy food that costs you your first child and is the size a mouse.Well they have all of that, but nestled on the corner of Ocean & Santa Monica Boulevard they also have Ye Olde Kings Head.20140310_114347
“The British are coming!” “The British are coming!”

Well don’t go spilling your Earl Grey tea just yet ~ they’ve been here since 1974.On looking outside you’d think it was just another wannabe pub with some English stuff on the walls, more trendy food, and a bar. But, you’d be wrong.

Completely wrong.
This place is as close to what you’ll find in a West End London pub (minus heavy accents and people from Guy Ritchie movies). The walls are adorned with soccer, rugby, and cricket memorabilia as well as pictures of countless movie stars that have come through the doors to eat the fare.20140310_114549An autographed picture hangs on the wall of Hell’s Kitchen chef (and guy I would stab on national television), Gordon Ramsey, playing soccer. Another picture is of rugby player turned actor, Vinnie Jones, backfisting some guy square in the jewels during a match.

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A class act I tell ya.

But I digress. Onto why I really came here: the food. I looked at the menu for a good 15 minutes after I fully knew exactly what I was going for but I like to see what else might strike my curiosity.

Ok ok ok.

Who am I kidding, I told Danielle, my cute dainty bartender/waitress, “I’ll have the fish and chips, but of course……
OH, and a Black & Tan with a Jameson back”

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While I wait I notice there’s a few fellas at the bar and they are Aussies!! And as Barcelona is playing (and losing) we spark up conversation about our native lands. Mine being San Francisco, and his being Perth. So now we’ve gone international but my food arrived and all talk stopped. I think they understood why.

Let me just say I’ve never been to the UK but I’ve had fish & chips over the years from many places and from what was placed in front of me, I can confidently say that I’ve been lying to myself for years up to now.

Here was what was handed to me with a smile:

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On first look it was something out of a travel magazine, and near perfection. It took me a minute or two to get my hands on it because it was piping hot. I let the heady glass of delicious Guinness and Harp cool my fingers.

The fish is a heavy battered cod fried to an amazing crispness that other places just can’t get quite right. This place NAILED IT. The “chips” or French fries as we in the states call it are a thick cut, almost like half of a steak fry. Served with a side of tartar sauce and a host of condiments, the malt vinegar and lemons were my weapons of choice that day.

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I came around mid-day before my flight back home to The Bay Area so there wasn’t much of a crowd but the waitress was on point and good with conversation. The Aussies and one transient drinker made for a nice cool afternoon. Inside it’s dark as you would think a pub would be but was extremely clean and well put together. There are dart boards for tournaments and along with the well stocked bar, they have a Scotch selection worthy of a long stay. The price of the food was moderate for the area you’re in and well worth it for the portion size.

So on your next trip to the west coast of Southern California make sure you stop by this little nugget of Britishness. Afterwards head over to the pier and do some other tourist stuff!

I give Ye Olde King’s Head and 8 out of 10.

Happy chowing!

blueforkinfoodiestamp

Ye Olde King's Head on Urbanspoon

Good ol’ Shenanigans

Shenanigans Irish Pub and Grille
423-A Shoreline Village Dr
Long Beach, CA 90802
United States

Written by guest reviewer,
Chris Davis

 

There are times when I want some specific type food
but my brain, for just some reason, can’t process what it is. However, in an
event such as this, you need to go with the one kind that
can never let you down……

PUB FOOD!!

Which in most cases for me is some kind of
Irish/British pub. This is what brought me to Shenanigans, located
in Shoreline Village, Long Beach. The weather was great and it was somewhere around 1 o’clock and I was in a mood for your simple wings and Guinness. This place looked like it would fit the bill just perfectly.

The building on the outside is yellow but the back side of the place has
great patio seating overlooking the downtown marina Long Beach. Inside it’s just what a pub should be, pool tables, dart boards, walls adorned with randomness.

Ahhhh yes, a pub as it should be!

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Oh and it’s stocked with a pretty snazzy Scotch selection that you can’t
go wrong with.

Now onto the grub, in some places they do wings different ways. Some fry them, some grill them, others fry and bake them. Me, personally, I prefer them fried nice and crispy with just enough sauce to get on my fingers but NOT on my shirt.

I ordered a dozen in a regular buffalo sauce but lightly coated, a basket of fries and my usual Black & Tan. The bartender had my heart when she asked me “Harp or Smithycks with your Guinness?” In a simple place they’d just serve it with whatever and not ask you. I’m a Harp guy with my Black & Tan’s when it’s available.

That’s just doing it RIGHT.

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My wings came out piping hot just as they should be and she was right on time with my next drink. There was a bit of a difference in these wings though. At first I thought it was some type of spice but the sauce had a bit more kick to it than normal. I couldn’t place what it was but DAMN it was good. The fries were extra crispy just the way I like them, and the house made blue cheese was just what the doctor ordered.

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The place wasn’t exactly its fullest, seeing as how it was a Thursday afternoon and more people were at the beach. But nonetheless, my waitress/bartender was cute and knew what she was doing behind the counter. So service wasn’t an issue and the prices were more than reasonable. So on your next Long Beach trip, go get into some Shenanigans!!

Happy chowing!!

Shenanigans on Urbanspoon

Morning & Booze is wrong? Then I don’t wanna be right.

Cold, snowy sunday morning’s are awesome aren’t they? Laying around in your heavily pillowed bed with your flannels on, the Food Network channel playing on the television as it watches you drift in and out of your lazy slumber. Your cuddly loyal puppy softly snoring at the end of the bed by your feet. AAhhh yeah… nothin’ like it… right?

Yep……UNTIL you have to haul that lazy ass OUT of your cosy bed to let the damn dog out so he can get his morning constitutional going on. The house is cold, the floor is cold, old man winter laughs and points his grossly knuckled finger at you as you stand there at the patio door, going from toasty to frosty in mere seconds. You catch your reflection in the glass. Your miserable scowl along with the rat’s nest taking up space at the back of your hair pretty much indicates how your day is going to go hereon in.

Fear not as I have the most righteous solution, hands down,  to get your sunday back on track. Do me a favor, get your coffee brewing and let’s get drunk….. just kidding…. well, kinda kidding.

Hey, don’t judge.

Boozy Morning Coffee Elixir

(aka Bailey’s Irish Cream knockoff).

l cup cream

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l can sweetened condensed milk

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2 tbs chocolate syrup

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l tsp vanilla

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I used a vanilla bean paste cuz I’m fancy like that, but regular vanilla extract will work just as well.

l tsp instant coffee granules

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l & 2/3 c Irish Whiskey

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I used l 3/4 cup of CANADIAN Whiskey. Why?

You know why.
(yaaay Canada!)

Mix all the ingredients together and “whaz” it up (Jamie Oliver’s lingo) in your blender. Easy Peazy right?

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Ok, so here’s the thing.  Taste as you go people. If it’s not coffee-ish or chocolately enough, jack that bubba up with another tablespoon of syrup, or another tsp or two of coffee granules.  Make it your own sistah!!… or…………………. guy.

If I was going to make this again (ohhhh and you can bet your slobbery slurs, I will), I’d definitely put extra coffee and chocolate syrup in it. Maybe even a bit more vanilla and if I was feeling particularly saucy, I’d sprinkle some cinnamon in it. But that’s just me and my brilliant mind. I know you can be brilliant too – taste taste taste – till it’s purrrrfect for you.

For a NON-driving, anytime treat, just pour some over ice. Like this:

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So here ya go. If you have the ingredients, you can whip this up in the time the dog does his #2 and the coffee is ready.  Pour a splash into your coffee, shuffle back to bed and cuddle up with the cup under the covers.

Sip it. Love it. Whisper sweet nothing’s to it.

And when you want to tell the world about this delightfullness and it’s miracle of making your Sunday perfect again, remember, brush your teeth. Boozy breath is one thing, but MORNING boozy breath is just wrong.

It’zZz a ForKin’ BOoze rEEveeewww, Eh? *hic*

Three of my favorite people came over today. My brother, his beautiful wife, and my mom.

They came over bearing gifts, one of them being a beer I’ve really been wanting to try:

Boxer’s Watermelon Beer

Yep.. Watermelon :)

What the can looks like:

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What the ummm beer looks like:

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Two~gulp review:

Ok. Honestly, I had visions that this beer would be lightly hinted at a sweet, crisp, watermelon flavor mixed with a light beer taste.  Sadly, it simply wasn’t even Forkin’ close. Hear me whisper??? Not even close.

Instead, I was assaulted with a sickly sweet, pink, cough syrupy taste… One of those gross artificial watermelon flavors that they would use in cough syrup, and that would cover any hint of a beer memory (and it did).

Just gross.

Like a really gross, lame Cooler made with weak tasting beer.

Don’t bother.

………….UNLESS…………

You are looking to get utterly shitfaced/pie-eyed/frunk, on a pink colored beer, (and you will), because the alcohol content is 8.45%. YES… look AGAIN at the photo! 8.45%!!! Shotgun one of those bullets like a teenager at a bush party, and you’ll be feeling no pain in no time.

Someone should tell  Lil’ Wayne I found a less judgemental alternative to his “Purple drank/Sizzurp”.

Based purely on alcohol content alone, I give Boxer Watermelon Beer

3/10